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<big>''Welcome to the '''explain xkcd''' wiki!''
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<font size=5px>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</font>
We already have [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-3}}''' comic explanations]]!</big>
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(But there are still {{#expr:{{LATESTCOMIC}}-{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-3}} to go. Come and [[List of all comics|add yours]]!)
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We have collaboratively explained [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9}}''' xkcd comics]],
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    as well as [[List of all comics]], which is obviously not a comic page. -->
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and only {{#expr:{{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9)}}
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remain. '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Add yours]]''' while there's a chance!
 
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== Latest comic ==
 
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<span style="float:right;">[{{fullurl:1091: Curiosity|action=edit}} '''edit this explanation!''']</span>
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<span style="float:right;">[[{{LATESTCOMIC}}|'''Go to this comic explanation''']]</span>
 
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== New here? ==
 
== New here? ==
Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the explain xkcd wiki!  We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between.  If it is referenced in an [http://www.xkcd.com xkcd] web comic, it should be here.
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<div style="float:right; margin: 0 0 1em 1em">{{Special:ContributionScores/10/7/nosort,notools}}<div style="font-size:0.85em; width:25em; font-style:italic">[[Special:ContributionScores|Lots of people]] contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account [[Special:UserLogin/signup|here]].</div></div>
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You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at [[explain xkcd]]. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki!  We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between.  If it is referenced in an [[xkcd]] web comic, it should be here.
  
 
* If you're new to wikis like this, take a look at these help pages describing [[mw:Help:Navigation|how to navigate]] the wiki, and [[mw:Help:Editing pages|how to edit]] pages.
 
* If you're new to wikis like this, take a look at these help pages describing [[mw:Help:Navigation|how to navigate]] the wiki, and [[mw:Help:Editing pages|how to edit]] pages.
  
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* Discussion about various parts of the wiki is going on at [[Explain XKCD:Community portal]]. Share your 2¢!
  
* [[List of all comics]] contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links ([[like this]]) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them!
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* [[List of all comics]] contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links ([[like this]]) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Here's how]]'''.
  
 
== Rules ==
 
== Rules ==
Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations, feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.
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Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.
  
 
If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.
 
If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.
  
Please only submit material directly related to&mdash;and helping everyone better understand&mdash;xkcd... and of course ''only'' submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.)  Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users posting such are at risk of being blocked.
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Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course ''only'' submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.)  Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.
  
 
If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is [[Special:ListUsers/sysop|here]].
 
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Revision as of 21:16, 24 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". xkcd comics, and only Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". (Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",".%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Harpoons
To motivate it to fire its harpoons hard enough, Rosetta's Philae lander has been programmed to believe it is trying to kill the comet.
Title text: To motivate it to fire its harpoons hard enough, Rosetta's Philae lander has been programmed to believe it is trying to kill the comet.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Needs more work, especially the top section.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Continuing a recurring theme (as seen in comics 111, 231, and 323), two unrelated but interesting objects have been juxtaposed graphically with humorous results. In this case, it's the fact that old-timey, man-made harpoons (a cool word) have been placed among the equipment for a space flight (a cool concept). According to Randall, this has happened twice.

The latter peak on this graph refers to the Rosetta unmanned spacecraft. As part of its mission, it's carrying a lander (called Philae), which has two tethers to anchor itself to the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Rosetta was launched in March 2004 (as shown in the graph) and is scheduled to encounter the comet in August 2014, making this a timely comic.

The first peak is probably a joke. Officially, Apollo 12 carried neither harpoons nor rum. However, as a former NASA contractor, Randall may know more about space shenanigans than the general public, and may be implying (perhaps jokingly) that a bottle of the Harpoon brand of Jamaican rum made it aboard.

The title text compares the Philae lander's method of deploying its tethers to whaling, in which sailors would throw harpoons at a whale with the intent of killing the whale. It was important to throw hard so the harpoon would stick in the whale so it could not get away and would tow the whaling boat until it got tired and could be killed.

It is implied that the spacecraft is sentient and needs a motivation to fire the harpoons hard enough to stay anchored to the comet. It has thus been programmed to believe that its mission is to kill the comet. This is a joke, as Rosetta is of course not sentient[Citation needed].

Transcript

Number of harpoons in space
by year
[A chart with a red graph is drawn below]
[The y-axis]
0 1 2 3
[The x-axis]
1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
[The graph is at zero until a sharp peak to 1 in 1970. The peak is labeled]
Apollo 12 rum incident
[The graph then stays at 0 until 2004. Then it rises to 2 and stays there until today, continuing as a dotted line after 2014. The rise is labeled]
Rosetta comet mission launched carrying lander with harpoon tethers

Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

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Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! Here's how.

Rules

Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.) Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is here.

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